As most involved in the Colorado Springs music scene know, we lost singer Chris Forsythe to heart issues last October. Not only did many local musicians lose a friend, sound engineer and larger-than-life personality, but thrash metal standouts Malakai lost their lead vocalist at the close of recording their fourth studio album, Cleanse the Destroyers.
Given the overwhelming response to Forsythe's memorial celebration at the Black Sheep and Malakai's standing as one of the preeminent metal bands in the region, it seemed natural that another event would follow once post-production was completed. The band — along with Another Shade of Hate, Grindscape, Worry and an array of special guests — will celebrate both the record release and Forsythe's memory at the Black Sheep on Feb. 27.
However, despite what is sure to be a packed show, Malakai bassist Brian Voorhies says the event was initially far from a certainty.
"When I first heard of this show being considered, I was very much against us performing, because I absolutely didn't want to play any of the songs without Chris. [After discussion], I was able to open up to the idea, especially when I found out all the people that wanted to help us and pay their own tribute to Chris. The outpouring for Chris and his family was nothing short of amazing, and it made me very proud to be a part of this music community the way everyone came together — I can honestly say that I have never seen anything like it."
Malakai's guitarist, Jon Saultz, agrees, citing the widespread show of support as a main motivator for the record release show.
"We sat down as a band and talked about it one evening. A couple weeks later, it seemed to have magically worked itself out. Things fell into place and the songs seemed to have picked themselves. We will have some old and new songs with many guest vocal spots. Todd [Morrison], normally our drummer, will be stepping up and singing a few of the new songs."
Recorded with producer Bill Douglass at Royal Recording Studio, the album marks a change from the band's previous self-recorded and self-produced efforts, which Voorhies believes freed up the band to concentrate on the music itself.
"We were able to feed on the studio magic and breathe the needed life into the songs — it was quite something to see the transformation happen so quickly inside those walls. Through the last couple weeks of recording and mixing, Chris had become very adamant about getting the record done. He was always the motivator on the previous records, but this time it was almost as if he knew he was under time constraints to make sure everything got done."
Saultz agrees, praising Douglass' contributions, including the idea to shoot a music video for the track "Die Violent" at HellScream Haunted House.
"Bill's [participation] took a lot off our plate so we could concentrate on making the music. Our goal was to release a 10-song album, no less, and it took a while, but we got there. There is an unspoken, invisible voodoo that happens or doesn't happen, and we still don't know what controls it. Once we got into it, we started hearing a different side of the band; a sort of refinement. Shall we call it tuxedo metal, and make sure to wear your black ball gown? Hard to describe, but we all felt this would be the pinnacle album for Malakai."
Voorhies recalled the band receiving news of Forsythe's passing the final day they were to return to the studio, which has made the release bittersweet.
"I've got a ton of memories from my time in Malakai," says Voorhies. "Most good, some bad, and some indifferent. One thing I will always remember is just how laid-back we all are. There was never any internal drama, and I never worried about being in a bad situation when I was on the road with these guys."
But the strongest and most cherished memory for all of Chris' bandmates remains the same:
"Whether it was after a show, before a show, middle of the day, or middle of the night... whether he was drunk as hell or sober and dry, no matter if it happened in the flesh, at the movie, through a phone conversation or a text message, Chris would always find the time to tell each and every one of us, 'I love you, man.' And no matter the situation, you would never question his loyalty or honesty, because he always meant those three words."
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